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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Texas Sheet Cake

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I was intrigued by a feature in Cooking Light's most recent issue--a chocolate dessert bake-off. Set up in tournament style brackets, the magazine displayed 16 chocolate recipes from the magazine's past and pitted them against each other, re-testing each to declare an ultimate chocolate recipe winner. I studied the outcome of each rivalry--bourbon-caramel truffles vs. chocolate baklava, chocolate pudding vs. chocolate-hazelnut mousse, and Mexican chocolate cream pie vs. triple-chocolate cheesecake, to name a few.

The championship came down to Texas Sheet Cake and Classic-Fudge Walnut Brownies. Although the brownies pulled through for the title, it was the pictures of the sheet cake that screamed "make me!" from the pages of the magazine. Normally I'd always choose brownies over cake, but I've long heard praise for Texas Sheet Cake and I was eager to give it a try.

I'll have to make the brownies to declare my own personal winner, but this cake was definitely a winner in its own right. It makes enough for a crowd, especially because a small piece is enough to satisfy any chocolate cravings you have. It's very chocolatey and very sweet--there's no questioning why it was picked by the editors of Cooking Light. Don't omit the nuts-they're a nice texture addition and help cut some of the sweetness!
P.S. My favorite way to eat these was FROZEN! They don't get rock hard in the freezer and the cold chocolate and creamy frosting was divine. I originally froze them with the intention of thawing them, but then I just started eating them frozen!

One Year Ago: Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Two Years Ago: Zucchini Banana Bread

Texas Sheet Cake
from Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2012

-cooking spray
-2 tsp all-purpose flour
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 cups granulated sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp salt
-3/4 cup water
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
-1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
-1 tbsp vanilla extract, divided
-2 large eggs
-6 tbsp butter
-1/3 cup fat-free milk
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 15 x 10 inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray and dust with 2 tsp flour. Set aside.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon 9 oz (2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour with sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour chocolate mixture into flour mixture and beat with a mixer until well-blended. Mix in buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla, and eggs. Beat well before pouring batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375F for 17 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack.
4. In a saucepan, combine 6 tbsp butter, fat-free milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gradually stir in powdered sugar. Add 2 tsp vanilla and pecans. Spread frosting over hot cake and allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
*Note--these bars freeze well, even frosted! Just wrap them well before freezing.